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San Benito High School to implement energy efficiency program

The project, which includes new light fixtures, "smart" heating and cooling systems, and the installation of solar panels, is expected to save the district $13 million

On June 13, San Benito High School board members approved a Energy Conservation & Renewable Generation Program aimed at addressing energy efficiency issues mandated by Prop. 39 and also help to remedy classroom comfort issues and recurring maintenance problems.

Approved by the voters in November of 2012, Prop. 39, also known as the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, allocates corporate income tax revenue into projects that will help to improve energy efficiency and expand energy generation in schools.

In January 2017,  the district approved a planning study agreement with Climatec LLC to help identify the unfunded and deferred maintenance needs for the school. Among those were the cooling and heating equipment in older buildings, lighting and the old building automation systems. The plan also included a renewable energy generation program that would meet the Prop. 39 requirements. 

“I am pleased the that board supported this project,” said Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum, noting the project had taken six months to develop. “It will enhance what we already have.”

The funds provided by the Prop. 39 Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBS), and district capital contributions will allow the school to install 320,000 interior and exterior LED lighting fixtures, install an automated temperature control system in the library and administration building, and introduce motion-sensing technology that will only heat or cool rooms that are being occupied in order to maximize energy efficiency. The district will also implement a solar photovoltaics (PV) solution on top of a shade structure located in the North Parking Lot (near Baler Alley) to help offset energy costs.

“The question is, why do this? Our goals are to 1, reduce operation expenses; and 2, become more efficient as we continue to grow and expand the district; and 3, reduce our (carbon) footprint,” said Tennenbaum. 

With the implementation of solar PV, the district is also looking into incorporating the technology into its curriculum. Tennenbaum said students will be able to have a hands-on experience with the solar panels on campus to expand their knowledge of clean energy. 

The program is expected to save the district $13,308,296 over its lifecycle, significantly reducing the yearly general fund cost for energy. 

“In the long term, we are looking to offset operating costs and consumption. It’s good to have and eye to the future to see how we can move forward as a district with our initiatives,” Tennenbaum said.

Laura Romero (Laura Romero)

Laura Romero is a general assignment reporter for BenitoLink, covering topics like education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. Her PR skills will be put to use as she helps implement social media strategies and develops an online giving campaign.

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